Monday, October 12, 2009

Bite-Sized Blogging: Dracula (Chapter 9)

12 October.

  • (Wilhel)mina, upon meeting up with and marrying a recuperating Harker in Buda-Pesth, is told by the Sister caring for him that "the ravings of the sick were the secrets of God," which seems to me another subtle jab by Stoker at the religious powers of Dracula--for after all, the secrets Harker spills are those of the bloody Count.
  • Mina, writing to Lucy, mentions that "I must not wish you no pain, for that can never be; but I do hope you will be always as happy as I am now." Is that an optimistic or pessimistic view of the world? I ask, because Mina represents the attitude of the very educated English--is Stoker writing a Gothic horror in order to show us the light through the darkness? Or is he attempting to blot out the sun itself with his bleakness?
  • Following up on that thought is Dr. Seward's view: "We lunched alone, and as we all exerted ourselves to be cheerful, we got, as some kind of reward for our labours, some real cheerfulness amongst us." As if cheerfulness were something that needed to be worked for, or--worse yet--as if they have mistaken the pretense of happiness for actual happiness. Are they fools for fooling themselves, or is this the wisdom of ignorance?
  • There's more philosophy in Dracula than I thought, but I still think it's clumsily done--at least by modern standards. Seward hits the nail on the head with this description of Renfield (which could double as a description of Stoker's writing): "[it] seems rather to indicate than to show something directly. I cannot quite understand it." This is the game the author plays with us: he indicates things, particularly to an audience well-vested in the legends and lore, but is far from direct, and not good at all at showing us things--only telling them to us.
  • I must say that I do admire Stoker's descriptions--I only wish that he could restrict them to characters whom you'd expect to describe things. It's unclear as to why Seward's journal of mainly medical observations is cluttered with reflections onto the city. Still, would I cut the following? "It was a shock to me to turn from the wonderful smoky beauty of a sunset over London, with its lurid lights and inky shadows and all the marvellous tints that come on foul clouds even as on foul water, and to realize tall the grim sternness of my own cold stone building, with its wealth of breathing miser, and my own desolate heart to endure it all." I would not.

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